Saturday, April 24, 2021

The Chance to Fly

Stroker, Ali and Davidowitz, Stacy. The Chance to Fly
April 13th 2021 by Amulet Books
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Nat Beacon moves from California to New Jersey because her mother has a new job as an actuary (so boring!)and her father is the athletic director of the nearby high school. Nat's not thrilled, because their home in California was more accessible to her wheelchair, everyone knew about the car accident that caused her to require it, and she was on a wheelchair racing team. When she and her father go to check out the local racing team, she sees a sign for an audition for Wicked. Nat is musical obsessed, but her parents think that someone "with her circumstances" won't be able to be on stage. Without her parents permission, she tries out, and gets cast in the chorus. She's thrilled to make friends, who are very helpful and friendly (especially the cute Malik!), and to finally get to perform. Her parents aren't happy she disobeyed them, but let her work with the group. There are some hiccups-- at first, the director tells her she doesn't need to be on stage for all of the dances, her father drives her to the camp the group has and gets lost, and the theater the group was using suffers a bad fire. Nat and her friends look around to find another theater. Will the performance be able to go on, and will Nat finally get her chance on stage?
Strengths: This had all of the things that make up a good middle grade theater novel-- new friends, production details, a little insecurity, and a really big show. (Okay, if you said that in a certain voice, you've dated yourself!) Nat is a sympathetic character who wants more independence from her parents, who wants to pursue her own dreams, and who is glad to be involved in an activity about which she is passionate. There are lots of musicals referenced (Does anyone do Oklahoma anymore? Well, they do The Music Man, which also seems dated), and Nat clearly loves her stuff. Having her contact her best friend from back home a lot at first, but then decreasing the frequency was a good addition. 
Weaknesses: I would feel better if more middle grade books books focused on practical careers that society actually needs. That "boring" actuary job? There are lots of jobs available because it's something society needs. 
What I really think: This is an #ownvoices novel; Stroker is an actress who does Broadway and television. There is not a lot of representation of people who use wheelchairs (Sumner's Roll With It, Johns' Mascot and Super Max  and Ostler's, and Vaught's Bouncing Back are some of the few I've read in recent years.) 


  1. This sounds like a fun read...and I've been looking for some good Own Voices books, so this was perfect. Thanks for the recommendation!

  2. I guess I date myself, because I love the sounds of this story! I lived and died for musicals in my teens and spent many years working in summer theater. And I love so many of the oldies, like Oklahoma. So, this book would appeal to me -- and I think any teen who dreams of performing on stage!